Why customer service is important even to those who are not customers yet

I am feeling a bit let down by the local commercial hospitality providers. I run a breakfast group which meets weekly at a hotel. Before our Christmas break I was careful to make sure we would have our normal booking on the first Tuesday morning in January. It was all carefully written down in the book. Imagine my surprise when we turned up before 7AM on a very cold morning this last week to find the hotel shut up and completely locked up. Not only was it an extreme inconvenience for the group having got up so early on a very chilly morning to no avail, but I felt very embarrassed. Despite the fact I had a booking and had confirmed it, it would only be natural for one or two to think that it was all my fault for not checking. Actually, I like to think that the members would be more understanding than that, but as the group director and organiser I felt responsible.

Eventually and getting on for lunchtime, someone finally answered the hotel telephone and told me they were closed for the week for refurbishment. It is a pity no one told me when I made what I thought was a booking, and it is a pity too that no one realised the error and telephoned me. I had assumed on the morning of the big lock-out and freeze-out that the hotel had gone out of business, which they will if they carry on treating their customers like this. All-in-all it was pretty poor customer service.

Being rather fed up and indeed before I had found out the truth about the hotel’s failure to welcome us last week, I telephoned two other local venues to see whether they could accommodate our weekly meetings and to quote a price for breakfast and use of one of their meeting rooms. I stressed this would be regular income every week. Both said that their manager / event organiser would be in touch. Guess what? Neither has.

I can understand that in both cases the venues might have thought it would not be profitable to accommodate us, or that they simply did not have the room or the staff available or whatever. That would be fair enough. However, not to return the calls and respond to my enquiries was very short-sighted. Since I do from their point of view organise local networking, I might still have considered them in the future if this time they had politely declined the business for a reason. Why would they want to give the wrong impression by being so rude as to not call me to explain? Do they not want to attract new business? Suppose I wanted to organise an event at some other time of the day, or for a much larger gathering than the breakfast club, which by the way has a healthy membership for groups of its type?

Our current provider failed badly on the issue of customer service. The two venues given the opportunity to quote also treated their potential customers very badly and pretty much ensured they would not be given the chance to bid for my business in the future.

Have you had similar experiences? How did you feel about it?

© Jon Stow 2010

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One Response to Why customer service is important even to those who are not customers yet

  1. Sarah Arrow says:

    Hey Jon
    Good read, as always.
    Like us I know you try and keep business local. What about a local pub? if you start at say 7.30 the landlord may be accommodating and there would be no one else there as they are not open.

    I find it hard to believe even in this climate people are shunning business by not getting their customer service right!


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